Hood River: A Family Day-Trip Guide


The quaint town of Hood River is a hidden jewel located along the Columbia River Gorge. My love for Hood River began as a tourist, and I now enjoy the benefits of being a resident. For over a decade, our family  made Hood River our vacation destination. Entering Oregon’s promised land of waterfalls, trails, and wineries beckoned us out of California dessert climates. Our love for this town has continued to grow. Surprisingly, the “tourist” stops we frequented in our years of vacationing here have not lost their wonder on our family. They have found a way into our hearts even after the newness faded. Whether a veteran visitor or first time tourist, Hood River is worth the hour trip from Portland.

hood river

Rivers and Waterfalls

The drive from Portland eastbound along I-84 holds scenery difficult to rival. This stretch of highway is of the most majestic in the U.S. Roll down the windows and don’t miss a thing. This roadway is sandwiched between the Columbia River and moss-covered cliffs. Even with “littles” in the car, this trip will pass quickly. The beauty is mesmerizing. Located approximately half way through the drive is the world renown Multnomah Falls followed by Starvation Creek State Park fifteen miles further down the freeway. The outstanding views and waterfalls of either destination will spice up any routine potty stop.

Waterfront Park

After long periods in the car, finding a place to stretch out and get blood moving is top priority. Drive into the heart of Hood River and make way to the Waterfront Park. This open stretch of land is situated right along the Columbia River and offers breathtaking views of the Gorge. The park has waterfront beach access and play equipment for the children. There is additional green space for picnic lunching or tossing the ball to your canine.

Time to Eat!

Hood River is a one-stop-shop for activities and dining. Two restaurants and a coffee shop are conveniently located across from the waterfront park. Solstice Wood Fire Cafe & Bar and Pfriem Family Brewers are both delicious eateries that provide food and drinks for all ages. Both restaurants have small play sections for children if guests choose to dine in as opposed to ordering out. Stoked Coffee Roasters is a great place to grab an afternoon pick-me-up or to purchase a bag of coffee beans to take home as a Hood River memento.

A Stroll Downtown

A stroll through Downtown Hood River is a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Locally owned shops boast of handmade jewelry, clothing, and home goods. Downtown provides visitors with a peek into the lives of the residents of Hood River and the activities they enjoy. In addition to a unique variety of boutiques, a selection of coffee shops, restaurants, wineries, and breweries are readily available. A Hood River landmark, Mike’s Ice Cream, provides colorful adironack chairs for lounging while savoring every last lick of ice cream. The children (and parents) find the adjacent tree house a welcomed place to let loose those afternoon wiggles.

Did Someone Say Pizza?

Pizza brings many happy hearts together over a meal. Andrew’s Pizza is a local favorite that offers a family-friendly environment, serving great food and a variety of local beers. Also, an indoor play structure is available for younger children, while the older kids occupy the arcade. The most unique feature of Andrew’s Pizza, and my personal favorite, is a two screen movie theater situated in the back of the restaurant. And when family films are playing, this dinner theater is the perfect way to end an adventurous day in Hood River. Pizza and beer are available for purchase throughout the film while couches and recliners make this theater feel as cozy as your own living room. 

Hood River is the perfect place for a weekend getaway or just a long day trip. Load up your family, escape from the chaos of life, and come create memories to be enjoy for years to come!


    • Would love to connect! Since moving here last summer we haven’t yet been on the Mt. Hood railroad, but would love for that change. Thanks for reaching out!

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